His best times won’t frighten Canada’s Olympians, but many still marvel at the feats of Winnipeg’s Corey Gallagher.
Gallagher is the Flotrack Beer Mile World Champion, winning the title in Austin, Texas with an unofficial world record time of 5:00.23. At the beer mile, competitors chug a bottle or can at the start of each of the four laps of the track and try to maintain running efficiency. Even former cyclist Lance Armstrong attempted the feat — without success.
Among those Gallagher crushed in Texas that day was 2013 IAAF World Championship 800m silver medallist Nick Symmonds. The American, who placed 5th in the 2012 Olympic 800m final, left Austin with respect for his new friend after a 5:41.71 beer mile.
“The thing about Corey is that he is a good runner, but not a world class miler by any means,” Symmonds says. “However, when it comes to chugging a beer, or four, I’m not sure there is anyone in the world who can beat him. Combine good running skills and incredible drinking skills and you have Corey Gallagher, the world’s best beer miler.”
Gallagher certainly enjoyed hanging with the track star.
“Nick and I were together almost every night (in Austin) and after the event we went out and partied,” Gallagher says. “There was so much respect. After the event we were hanging out and he said ‘I don’t get it, I am like a 3:50 miler and what have you run?’ I said I had never really run a mile. I have run 1,500m in 4:03 (roughly equivalent to a 4:21 mile). And he said ‘I am 30 seconds faster than you.’ It was really funny to hear that.”
Gallagher, 27, is a postal worker who trains seriously. Running more than 120 kilometres a week, he completed the 2014 Toronto Yonge Street 10K in 30:32. That earned him a credible 10th place.
“When training for the beer mile, I am not just sitting there chugging beer after beer because it’s kind of counterproductive,” he says. “You have to be fit to do it. You can’t just be a strong drinker.
“I like to have a few drinks now and then but, generally, it’s pretty low key. I work at Canada Post and I work at Stride Ahead Sports, a local running store, and then trying to get all the running in, get all the mileage in, I just don’t have time. But after the end of the week, or after a hard run, I like to have a nice beer.
“I think the first time I ran one, I ran 14 minutes. I was throwing up, it was an awful feeling. Then they convinced me to do another one. I kind of learned how to prep my stomach, not eat too much before. Along with that, I am a bigger runner, bigger stomach, and was able to hold it down. Then came the fitness and just being able to run that fast.”
And is beer part of his training regime, too? Not really, Gallagher says, adding he just drinks a lot of water on top of a big lunch, before going out for a distance run.